Mar 5, 2024
Slow Farm owner earns Ohio organic honor

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named Kim Bayer, who started Slow Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2016, as the 2024 Beginning Farmer.

The award recognizes innovation and commitment to overcome systemic barriers faced by new farmers. The association announced awards during its 45th annual conference in mid-February in Newark, Ohio.

OEFFA_logoKim Bayer’s professional background and training in library science and learning technology wasn’t a usual first step into farming. But after a career change toward community organizing, food writing, and leading efforts in food system change, she bought a farm.

Bayer started Slow Farm in her hometown of Ann Arbor in 2016. The land was originally in conventional corn and soybeans before she restored wetlands and converted more than 100 of the 187 acres to native prairie in the first year of ownership. The farm now aims to maximize diversity with beehives, prairie, ponds, woods and large fallow areas that provide habitat for native creatures and plants.

Slow Farm became certified organic by OEFFA in 2018, focusing on organic vegetable, fruit and flower production. There are about 15 cultivated, diversified acres using regenerative, no-till and low-till practices.

Using Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and u-pick marketing strategies, Bayer and Slow Farm encourage people to experience how food grows, with hands-on agroecology and nutrition education. She prioritizes paying a living wage to staff, and maximizing the accessibility of the food through a self-serve farmstand and offering SNAP/EBT benefits to community members.

“When people have a direct experience of an organic farm, and pull a beautiful carrot or pick a juicy tomato, they never forget it,” Bayer said.

Kim has also shown leadership in the organic community, visiting Washington, D.C., to speak with elected representatives and providing oral comments to the National Organic Standards Board. She has spoken about the importance of soil stewardship, growing local, organic food and offering opportunities to farm for underserved communities

After a late start, and doing many things the hard way, Bayer jokes that it’s a surprise to her to be a first-generation beginning farmer at the age of 60. But she credits her team, the other farmers she has learned from, and her family and friends for supporting her vision.

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands